As downtown Fort Smith positions itself to become the largest outdoor art gallery in the state, you can expect The Unexpected, an inaugural mural festival set for Sept. 3-12.
During festival week, the walls of several downtown historic buildings will be painted with murals. The buildings are located in between 10 square blocks. The public is encouraged to witness the process as the internationally renowned artists complete their murals.
The artist line-up includes world recognized artists Vhils, D*Face, Roa, Ben Eine, Maser, Ana Maria and Bicicleta Sem Freio, and is curated by Charlotte Dutoit from JUSTKIDS. JUSTKIDS creates large scale art events, gallery shows and design spaces with a global network of artists, curators, designers and art consultants on an international scale.
“We are lucky as Fort Smith has some huge and beautiful buildings, “says Dutoit. “It’s a fantastic playground for us and the history of the downtown as a true western city is highly inspiring for the artists.”
The festival kicks off at 7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 3 with a ground-breaking show titled “Printology” at the new Windgate Arts and Design Building at University of Arkansas- Fort Smith. Curated by JUSTKIDS, and sponsored by the UAFS Foundation, this retrospective exhibition will feature some iconic works from renowned artists such as Banksy, Invader and Shepard Fairey. The exhibition runs through the end of October.
Throughout the festival, The Unexpected Headquarters will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 521 Garrison. It will have mural maps, artist information, t-shirts, and coffee. Also part of the festival offerings, The Blue Lion Spoken Word event with Chicago poet and activist Malcolm London will be at 6 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 10 at UAFS. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 12, local artists will have an opportunity to paint in an open-air setting at Art in the Park at Ross Pendergraft Park, located downtown.
Fort Smith already had a preview of what to expect during festival week when Irish artists Maser and Conor Harrington collaborated on an impressive large-scale mural at Boardertown Skate Shop in March 2015.
The Unexpected mural event is organized by 64.6 Downtown, a non-profit committed to the revitalization of downtown Fort Smith.
For more information including artist information, activities, and building locations, visit UnexpectedFS.com. The event hashtag is #unexpectedfs.